Thursday, April 16, 2020

Covid Cafe: We're All Doing The Best We Can Beans-and-Ham Edition

Chefs, we're here for the duration and nobody knows how long that will be. Please don't  ever think what you're cooking isn't blog-worthy. We are literally out here on our own trying to keep spirits up, feeding ourselves and our families. Any effort you're making could inspire someone else.

Finch on feeder

Our longtime Chicago friend Kay checks in today with a beautiful pot of Beans and Ham...

Kay says: Here’s my version. I don’t use a recipe with any real precise quantities. Onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to start. Leftover ham from Easter-alone dinner. Tomatoes, spinach, and great northern beans. I add dried thyme and maybe a bay leaf.
To me that looks like a deeply satisfying first meal, or second. Thanks to Kay and all of you who continue sending recipes. We don't care how fancy, we don't care how elaborate. Cooking's really not a competition, despite what some shows would have us think.

In Columbus, Collette is collecting and drying flowers

Big-Batch Vegetable Soup
H2 here, making Martha's Big-Batch Vegetable Soup. I’ve loved this soup for probably 15 years because it's somehow greater than the sum of its parts. I’m not sure why. The centerpiece is eight cups of vegetables—fresh, frozen, or canned. 

You start with two cups chopped onion and a cup of celery, more if you're like me and crave celery.

In normal times, this is an excellent way to clear the vegetables out of your fridge before  shopping for more. During a pandemic it makes even more sense, since you can use any veggies you have on hand (adding that you could include beans in your eight-cup total). And the result is many meals.

What we have in our fridge is a surfeit of carrots and green pepper...

I’ve been known to use ketchup in place of the tomato paste.

I usually slice/chop cabbage for the last four cups. Cabbage is something everyone ate during historic hard times. I buy three or four cabbages on every grocery trip. They keep for weeks in the fridge fresh and stay happy under outer leaves that look like this.

We drop in a Parmesan rind to enrich the soup, but it’s not mandatory.

Directions (click here for full recipe)

Instructions Checklist
  • Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions or leeks, celery, and Italian seasoning; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add broth, tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, and 3 cups water to pot; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes.
  • Add vegetables to pot, and return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Let cool before storing.

Click here for a remarkable story about Lakeview Pantry teaming up with Wrigley Field to get hungry people fed. This is how you roll with the changes a pandemic brings.

I stretched with this guy this morning, but he wore me out at the 10-min mark

Here's an hour and a half of pure pleasure  
Worldwide Concert for Our Culture: Jazz at Lincoln Center's 2020 Virtual Gala

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